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evil livers, and taught them the ways of the spirit, and them without pertinacy, or without excuse.
It was preaching that restored the splendour of the church, when barbarism, and wars, and ignorance, either sat in, or broke the doctor's chair in pieces: for then it was that divers orders of religious, and especially of preachers, were erected; God inspiring into whole companies of men a zeal of preaching. And by the same instrument God restored the beauty of the church, when it was necessary she should be reformed; it was the assiduous and learned preaching of those whom God chose for his ministers in that work, that wrought the advantages and persuaded those truths, which are the enamel and beauty of our churches. And because by the same means all things are preserved by which they are produced, it cannot but be certain, that the present state of the church requires a greater care and prudence in this ministery than ever; especially since by preaching some endeavour to supplant preaching, and by intercepting the fruits of the flocks to dishearten the shepherds from their attendances.
My Lord, your great nobleness and religious charity hath taken from me some portions of that glory, which I designed to myself in imitation of St. Paul towards the Corinthian church; who esteemed it his honour to preach to them without a revenue; and though also like him I have a trade, by which as I can be more useful to others, and less burthensome to you; yet to you also, under God, I owe the quiet and the
opportunities and circumstances of that, as if God had so interweaved the
your charity, that he would have no advantages pass upon me, but by your interest; and that I should expect no reward of the issues of my calling, unless your Lordship have a share in the blessing.
My Lord, I give God thanks that my lot is fallen so fairly, and that I can serve your Lordship in that ministery by which I am bound to serve God, and that my gratitude and my duty are bound up in the same bundle; but now, that which was yours by a right of propriety, I have made publick, that it
still be more yours, and you derive to yourself a comfort, if you shall see the necessity of others served by that which
you heard so diligently, and accepted with so much piety, and I am persuaded have entertained with that religion and obedience, which is the duty of all those who know, that sermons are arguments against us, unless they make us better, and that no sermon is received as it ought, unless it makes us quit a vice, or be in love with virtue; unless we suffer it in some instance or degree to do the work of God upon our souls.
My Lord, in these sermons I have meddled with no man's interest, that only excepted, which is eternal ; but if any man's vice was to be reproved, I have done it with as much severity as I ought. Some cases of conscience I have here determined; but the special design of the whole, is to describe the greater lines of duty, by special arguments: and if any
witty censurer shall say, that I tell him nothing but what he knew before ; I shall be contented with it, and rejoice that he was so well instructed, and wish also that he had needed not a remembrancer ; but if either in the first, or in the second ; in the institution of some, or the reminding of others, I can do God any service; no man ought to be offended, that sermons are not like curious inquiries after new nothings, but pursuances of old truths. However, I have already many fair earnests that your lordship will be pleased with this tender of my service, and expression of my great and dearest obligations, which you daily renew or continue upon,
MY NOBLEST LORD,
Your Lordship’s most
Affectionate, and most
A PRAYER BEFORE SERMON.
O Lord God! fountain of life, giver of all good things, who givest to men the blessed hope of eternal life by our Lord Jesus Christ, and hast promised thy holy Spirit to them that ask him ; be present with us in the dispensation of thy holy word [*and Sacraments ;] grant that we being preserved from all evil by thy power, and among the diversities of opinions and judgments in this world from all errours and false doctrines, and led into all truth by the conduct of thy holy Spirit, may for ever obey thy heavenly calling : that we may not be only hearers of the word of life, but doers also of good works, keeping faith and a good conscience, living an unblameable life, usefully and charitably, religiously and prudently, in all godliness and honesty before thee our God, and before all the world, that at the end of our mortal life, we may enter into the light and life of God, to sing praises and eternal hymns to the glory of thy name in eternal ages, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
IN WHOSE NAME LET US PRAY IN THE WORDS WHICH HIMSELF COM
Our Father, which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come; thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven; give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us ; and lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever.
* This clause is to be omitted if there be no Sacrament that day. VOL. I.
A PRAYER AFTER SERMON.
Lord, pity and pardon, direct and bless, sanctify and save us all.
Give repentance to all that live in sin, and perseverance to all thy sons and servants, for his sake, who is thy beloved, and the foundation of all our hopes, our blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus, to whom with the Father and the Holy Spirit, be all honour and glory, praise and adoration, love and obedience, now and for evermore. Amen.